Clinton, Massachusetts, June 2nd, 2014 (McKenzieNewsService.com) – With Russia in the world news, the new exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA, Darker Shades of Red, offers visitors a rare opportunity to re-examine and analyze the Cold War period through the exploration of the Soviet Union’s official government propaganda posters. Strikingly graphic and explicit in its socialist message, the collection reveals the economic, social and political ideology of the Soviet Union from the mid 1940s to1990. The exhibit opens Saturday, June 14 and runs through August 30, 2014.
The evolution of Soviet poster art can be traced back to the two oldest traditions of Russian graphic art – the lubok (an illustrated woodcut or print) and the painted religious icon that profoundly influenced the masses. Dating back to the early seventeenth century, the lubok typically combined images with text.
From the Bolshevik Revolution onward, the poster has been an influential source for Soviet dogma. Leaders consigned a high priority on communicating the ideas of revolution, socialism and social responsibility to its citizenry. Posters were used to direct and manipulate mass consciousness in accordance with Communist Party objectives. Allegorical images of Soviet leaders, soldiers, workers, and peasants were common heroic themes; images of machinery symbolized productivity in industry and farming. Locomotives, sputniks and rockets insinuated a collectivized sense of progress and achievement. This nationalistic information was communicated to the public through vibrant compositions combining figures, text (often poetry) and geometric blocks of strong color.
Post World War II tensions between the Soviet Union and the West led to the beginning of the Cold War. Fear of nuclear proliferation and anti-West attitudes were often reflected in Soviet posters during the decades that followed. Civil defense posters explained how to prepare for a nuclear attack. Caricatures of American and British leaders depicted the West and its political structure as the enemy of the Soviet people.
Propaganda images also trickled down into the homes of the day-to-day lives of people. All schools, shops, factories, apartment buildings and public spaces were spattered with Soviet imagery. In this closed society, there were no opposing images; people were exposed only to what was seen as fulfilling the goals of the Party. Common objects such as postcards and even children’s books had to reinforce Communist objectives. By observing these official images, museum visitors are given an insider’s perspective into life in an authoritarian, autocratic society.
The objects in Darker Shades are drawn from the private collection of Gary Hollingsworth, a Florida art restorer who traveled extensively in the former Soviet Union. The exhibition includes 55 original Soviet posters (with translations) and assorted ephemera like medals and orders, statuettes and factory banners.
The Museum of Russian Icons collection of more than 700 Russian icons and artifacts is the largest of its kind in North America, and one of the largest private collections outside Russia. Spanning six centuries, the compendium includes important historical paintings dating from the earliest periods of icon “writing” to the present. The Museum was founded in 2006 as a nonprofit educational institution by Massachusetts industrialist, philanthropist and art collector, Gordon B. Lankton.
Admission: Adults $7; Seniors (59 +), $5; Students, $2; Children 3-17, $2; Children under 3, free
Museum Open: Tuesday – Friday, 11AM – 3PM; Thursday until 7PM; Saturday, 9AM – 3PM. Admission is free to Museum Members.
The Museum of Russian Icons is located at 203 Union Street, Clinton, Massachusetts.
Contact: Rob Zeleniak
Phone: 508-869-2062, Cell: 508-450-1489
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